Children absolutely adore me. They run up to me in the park, they climb on me at parties, they follow me around the grocery store, and stare at me in restaurants. Babies reach for my glasses, toddlers try to unhook my earrings, preteens pet my tattoos, and teens… well okay, teens don’t like anyone.
The thing is, I have absolutely no idea why children like me so much. I am a 36-year-old rather imposing looking woman – short hair, short stature, and of short temper. My skin is 60% tattooed, my clothes have spikes on and any jewellery I wear is bound to be skull or spider-themed. Finally, and I really cannot stress this enough, I HATE children. This absolute loathing leaks out of every pore and swirls around me like the mist from a cranky old lady’s nebulizer.
I can’t stand them, with their mucus-spilling faces, their vacant, concussed-style questioning (Why do you have such a big nose?), and their propensity to turn at any second from a giggling little angel to a murderous, shrieking hell-beast. ‘Oh but you can’t really hate children! Look at that cute baby!’ No, that baby is not cute. It is a porous balloon filled with enough germs and toxins to fell an African elephant, and it looks like what you would get if an extremely unfortunate raisin somehow gained sentience.
And yet, as sure as a child given a toy with small parts will shove it into an orifice, whenever I’m around kids they cluster to me like they have never seen anything more fascinating in their teeny tiny lives. If I go to someone’s home, after 20 minutes I will be sitting in one room with the parasites and every other adult will be trilling and laughing, child-free, in another. This means not only do children like me – parents do as well.
It’s not like I’m even nice to children. I’m that edge-of-social-outcast person who will happily (and with great enthusiasm) tell off other people’s children when in public. If I see your spawn ripping leaves off an ornamental plant, then you best believe that by the time you turn around I will have educated the little brat on the species, age and cost of aforesaid plant and have them fretting about the state of the rainforest, if not the absurdities of mankind in general. If I can return your child to you with a vaguely hysterical glaze to their face, then so much the better.
So, why do children like me? I have two theories. Either, children are all closeted little nihilists who believe God is dead, life is meaningless, and there is thus no reason NOT to stick themselves to me like gooey little octopuses (fair enough), or, they are simply sick of being lied to.
You see, in trying to convince their children to behave, parents produce an unrivalled volume of utter tripe, and children hate it. I was once asked by some clueless parents to convince their 6-year-old darling princess to take a shower (she had not done so for 5 days). They had tried explaining to her that nice little girls are always clean, good little girls should smell nice, the other children would laugh at her, and other such nonsense – which of course she had seen through and ignored. These parents, knowing my status as the Reluctant Child Whisperer, begged me to change her mind. ‘If you do not go and take a shower right now, I will fill the bath with cold water, pick you up fully clothed, and dump you in it,’ was not what they had in mind, but did the trick. Once clean, she completely ignored them and wrapped herself around my leg, like a chattering lilac-scented sloth.
So, if you are like me and hate children with the passion of a thousand burning suns, let me give you some advice: tattoos, spiked jewelry and a bad attitude will draw them in faster than you can say, ‘flypaper’. Rather than being intimidating, I have become the most interesting thing in the room. No, the way to keep them away is to tell them all the other rubbish that adults tend to spout. ‘Eating vegetables will make you strong,’ ‘If you work hard, you’ll succeed,’ and ‘Well-behaved people get further in life.’ Children have not been in the world long enough to be cynical, but they know a load of tosh when they hear it.